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U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services Release: HHS Secretary Urges States To Aggressively Prosecute Flu Vaccine Price Gouging


10/19/2005 5:11:50 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson sent a letter to the Attorney General of each state today urging them to thoroughly investigate reports of price gouging involving the flu vaccine and to prosecute those found to be taking advantage of the vaccine shortage.

"It is extremely disturbing to learn of reports of price gouging by immoral individuals looking to make a quick buck off of a public health challenge," Secretary Thompson wrote in the letter. "I am encouraging the attorney general of each state to thoroughly investigate reports of price gouging and prosecute those engaging in this immoral and illegal activity to the full extent of the law."

Secretary Thompson said it will take the good faith and cooperation of all Americans -- the public, doctors, nurses and public health professionals -- to ensure that the flu vaccine goes to those who truly need it most this flu season. Information on who is recommended to get the flu vaccine is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldget.htm.

In the letter, Secretary Thompson said the CDC is collecting reports on price gouging and sharing the information with the National Association of Attorneys General and state prosecutors.

The full text of the letter is as follows: October 14, 2004 Dear Attorney General:

The disappointing loss of half of our nation's flu vaccine due to manufacturing issues in England poses a serious challenge to our vaccine supply for the upcoming flu season. Chiron was to produce between 46-48 million doses for America, and we are calling on all Americans to work together to ensure the vaccine gets to those who need it most.

A vast majority of Americans are working to meet this test, but it is extremely disturbing to learn of reports of price gouging by immoral individuals looking to make a quick buck off of a public health challenge.

I am encouraging the attorney general of each state to thoroughly investigate reports of price gouging and prosecute those engaging in this immoral and illegal activity to the full extent of the law. The Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collecting reports on price gouging and sharing it with the National Association of Attorneys General and state prosecutors.

We have faced vaccine shortages in the past, most recently in 2000-2001. We have worked through them successfully. And we need to come together to work through this challenge as well. Let's all work together to make sure those who really need the vaccine get it this flu season.

Sincerely, Tommy G. Thompson

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

CONTACT: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Press Office,+1-202-690-6343


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